After a 20-year legal battle, Kaira District Cooperative Milk Producers Union Limited, better known as Amul, was able to successfully defend its trademark against Shri Shakti Dairy and Kuldeep Enterprises, who were found guilty of violating the Amul trademark by the Commercial Court in Vadodara. Shri Shakti Dairy and Kuldeep Enterprises were found guilty of selling and promoting their products under names that resemble the original trade name Amul. According to the Vadodara Commercial Court, the defendants’ use of the term “Anul” violated the plaintiff “Amul’s” trademark and trademark rights. The court determined that the rhyme between the plaintiff’s trade name, “Amul,” and the defendant’s trade name, “Anul,” was likely to confuse consumers.
Brief Facts
• In 1998, it came to the attention of the Kaira District Cooperative Milk Producers Union Limited, also known as Amul Dairy, and the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Limited (hereinafter referred to as “the Plaintiffs”) that a private dairy known as Shri Shakti Dairy, which is based in Naroda, was selling milk pouches that were strikingly similar to its trademarked brands “Amul Taaza” and “Amul Shakti” in both name and Kuldeep Enterprises was marketing the fake pouches under the names Anul Taaza &Anul Shakti.
• After becoming aware of it, the Plaintiffs served Kuldeep Enterprises, the defendant who was selling “Anul Shakti” and “Anul Taaza,” with a legal notice.
• Over the years, the Defendant kept marketing its products under the same brand names.
• The petitioner then filed a lawsuit against them in the Nadiad District Court. The case was later moved to Vadodara, where a cutting-edge Commercial Court was established.
Issues
• Whether Defendant’s actions of selling and manufacturing their goods by the name of “Anul” under the names “Anul Shakti” and “Anul Taaza” was an infringement of the trademarks of Amul?
Plaintiff’s Contention
• It was contended that the Defendant was engaged within the selling and manufacturing of things named as “Anul Taaza” and “Anul Shakti”, which were deceptively like Amul’s well-known brands “Amul Taaza” and “Amul Shakti”.
• It was argued that the products of the Defendant were sold at village areas under the name “Anul” where the village folk could very easily get confused because it’d be difficult for them to differentiate between the two.
• It was also argued that the color scheme utilized by Anul on their dairy pouches was also like that of Amul’s.
• It contended that the Defendant’s actions of selling their products under the deceptively similar name of Anul, using similar arise within the packing and using a similar combination highlighted the Defendant’s malafide intention of imitating the trademark and reputation of the Plaintiff.
Defendant’s Contentions
• It was contended that there was no scope for confusion to be caused to the shoppers because the names used for its brand was phonetically different.
• It was submitted that there have been others furthermore who were imitating the labels of the Plaintiff Amul, and thus, Amul Dairy failed to have any monopoly right the said label and trademark.
• It absolutely was argued that the case was misconceived because the Defendants have themselves coined and invented the term “Anul”.
Court’s Decision
• It held that the brand names “Anul Taaza” and “Anul Shakti” rhymed with the names of the products of the Plaintiff. Therefore, the brands were deceptively quite like Amul’s brand and was likely to cause confusion among customers.
• The Court took note of the particular indisputable fact that there are several documentary evidences of the registration of Amul and its milk brands that were produced. it had been thus held to be clear that “Amul” is that the registered trademark of Amul Dairy. Moreover, the Defendant didn’t furnish any evidence to prove that “Anul” was coined and invented by it.
As a result, it was ordered that the defendant, its marketing company, as well as its agents, dealers, and distributors, refrain from producing, processing, marketing, and packaging under the disputed labels. The defendants were prohibited from marketing their dairy products as “Anul,” “Anul Shakti,” “Anul Taaza,” or any other misleading trade name.